Lori Cranston (Sophie Traub) is a confused fifteen-year-old dreamer in search of an escape from her troubled home life. She discovers and becomes enthralled with Eric (Jon Foster), a young man with a violent past. As they embark on a harrowing journey, a hardened local cop (Russell Crowe), who has been following Eric for years, is intent on exposing him as a serial killer before Lori’s fate is determined.
A troubled girl fixates on a young killer in Tenderness
. Eric (Jon Foster, The Informers
), imprisoned as a youth after murdering his parents, has just been released. Detective Cristofuoro (Russell Crowe) suspects that Eric is responsible for more killings than anyone knows, but all he can do is keep track of Eric's movements. Teenager Lori (Sophie Traub, Daltry Calhoun
), on the other hand, sneaks into Eric's car and finds herself on a road trip with a possible psychopath--but Lori has an agenda of her own that Eric may help her fulfill. Tenderness
has some plausibility problems and a pretty glib grasp of the psychology of serial killers, but despite that, the characters are compelling. Crowe coasts through his part, but he's got such a strong presence that even a minimalist performance like this one holds the screen. Traub and Foster both invest themselves thoroughly, and the interplay between them is the movie's strongest asset. Some flashes of David Lynch-esque eeriness provide some thrills, but for the most part this is about two troubled young people trying to help each other cope--one is coping with murderous impulses, but that doesn't make the emotional struggle any less identifiable. Based on the novel by Robert Cormier (The Chocolate War
, I Am the Cheese
). --Bret Fetzer Stills from Tenderness (Click for larger image)